I have a friend who is thinking about joining the Church, but he does not have a testimony of the prophet. As far as I can tell, his concerns are not specific to Gordon B. Hinckley. It’s the idea of a modern prophet that bothers him.
My friend is a Catholic, and some of his concerns stem from the inevitable comparisons between the Prophet and the Pope. He has been attending Mormon services regularly with his wife and children for years. He even has a calling! As a result of his longstanding association with the Church, he has asked all of the usual investigator questions, and heard all of the usual answers.
A couple of months ago, I challenged him to get serious about baptism, to find out whether he wanted to join the Church before his children were at the age when they would want to be baptized. He has taken my challenge seriously, reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Next week I would like to speak with him about prophets.
This is where you come in. I would be interested to hear your stories. (Where the Gospel is concerned, I prefer narratives to arguments.) How did you gain a testimony of modern prophets?
My story is simple and perhaps not very useful to my friend. I joined the Church at BYU. Shortly after my baptism, I attended a fireside by President Kimball in the Marriott Center. As he entered from the side, the audience of 20,000+ BYU students fell silent. Then we sang, “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet.” Watching President Kimball, I simply knew that he was a prophet.
I was comfortable with the notion of modern prophets prior to my baptism. (If you believe in God, why not prophets?) But that was the moment when I gained a spiritual conviction of modern prophets, and that conviction remains with me.